Sharks claim memorable win against Storm

 smh.com.au  8/12/2018 9:31:16 AM  2

The Storm had some desperate chances late on but couldn’t recover, and in truth the Sharks deserved the win in front of a crowd of 16,709.

The victory was Cronulla’s fourth win in the last five match-ups against Melbourne,  and earned despite a 12-5 penalty count against them.

Retiring great: Storm veteran Billy Slater walks off with his children through a Sharks guard of honour.

Retiring great: Storm veteran Billy Slater walks off with his children through a Sharks guard of honour.

Photo: AAP

The Storm’s attacking struggles limited cohesive forward movements early on, and defensively they were poor as well, giving up too many missed tackles.

Those misses proved costly on seven minutes as the Sharks slipped a bunch of tackles to be right on the verge of the line where hooker Jayden Brailey made a determined run then reached under his defender to score.

But the Storm battled on, drawing back-to-back penalties on the Sharks. The pressure resulted in a move to the right, where Will Chambers was able to run at a gap and find Suliasi Vunivalu who scored in the corner.

On line: Valentine Holmes kicks a conversion for Cronulla.

On line: Valentine Holmes kicks a conversion for Cronulla.

Photo: AAP

The Storm had more chances to score, twice Josh Addo-Carr could have been over but Valentine Holmes chased the New South Wales winger down after he burst from deep in his own half.  Soon after Storm centre Curtis Scott reached out and deflected forward a pass which would have seen his winger over to score.

Those missed opportunities hurt Storm badly in the final minutes of the half as Sharks winger Sosaia Feki toed the sideline then threw back a pass to Holmes to score.

Before that field goal the Sharks could have gone further ahead if centre Ricky Leutele found himself two on one against Chambers. With a Leutele pass wide to his winger the Sharks would likely have scored, instead he attacked the line himself and was held up.

But on the restart, halfback Chad Townsend converted a surprise drop-goal attempt to put the Sharks up 13-4 at half time.

Munster and Billy Slater teamed up five minutes into the second half to see Slater score a try, and Smith’s conversion made it 13-10.

Gridlock: Storm skipper Cameron Smith gets caught up in heavy traffic taking on the Sharks' defence.

Gridlock: Storm skipper Cameron Smith gets caught up in heavy traffic taking on the Sharks' defence.

Photo: AAP

Slater could have had a second on 54 minutes as he won the chase to a shallow kick but it bounced cruelly away from him.

Minutes later Slater also went close to setting up Scott for a try in the left corner but he was held up.

Joe Stimson was also held up as he attacked the try line on 64 minutes and the Storm faced the prospect of being left disappointed.

After the Sharks had left the Storm frustrated following several repeat sets, Munster’s pass attempt deflected off Nelson Asofa-Solomona’s shoulder 20-metres from the line and fell to Sharks centre Jesse Ramien who looked clear for a try before he was caught by Addo-Carr.

That mattered not in the end, as Josh Dugan scored just after with the Storm’s defence caught out of place.

Holmes conversion missed leaving the Storm 17-10 down with 10 minutes to play, Cameron Smith’s wayward kickoff sliced out of bounds as they attempted a short kickoff.

The Storm threw caution to the wind and after multiple off-loads finally broke through with Will Chambers finding Vunivalu for his second try seven minutes from time.

Smith’s kick from the sideline missed, leaving it 17-14 and no even some desperate passing in the final minutes could find a way past the Sharks.

Both teams gave Slater a guard of honour post game, it was the only thing the Sharks' defence gave away all day.

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